Corruption and anti-corruption local discourses and international practices in post-socialist Romania

Human Affairs 23 (2):212-229 (2013)
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Abstract

In the past two decades academic and research literature on “corruption” has flourished. During the same period organizations and initiatives fighting against corruption have also significantly expanded, turning “anti-corruption” into a new research subject. However, despite a few exceptions there is a division of labor between scholars who study corruption itself and those who study the global anti-corruption industry. Juxtaposing corruption’s local discourses and anti-corruption international practices, this article is an attempt to bring together these two intertwined research dimensions and explore how an ethnographic approach might contribute to framing them together. Firstly, it describes how corruption in Romania is often conceptualized and explained in terms of national heritage, something related to old and recent cultural history, including traditional folklore. Secondly, it explores how anti-corruption works in practice, focusing on international legal cooperation projects monitoring the progress and shortcomings both prior to and post Romania’s accession to the European Union. Finally, revealing the articulations of these two apparently unrelated research fields, the article argues that corruption’s local explanations and the circular logic of auditing observed within the anti-corruption industry share a common developmental ideology mirroring the crypto-colonialist structure of power relations and dependency among European nation-states emerging out of the Cold War.

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